The Internet Freedom Forum 2016, which took place on the 8th and 9th of March 2016, hosted delegates from Cameroun, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.
The Internet Freedom Forum hosted by Paradigm initiative Nigeria is a yearly event focused on indices around Internet Freedom in Nigeria.
This year’s forum deepened discussions on how freedom and openness on the Internet promotes economic and social development in Nigeria and around Africa, discussions usually involve policymakers, lawmakers, academic institutions and civil society organizations, amongst other stakeholders.
Nani Jansen, the Legal Director at Media Legal Defense Initiative delivered the keynote for the event.
Drawing on the global context of online right issues, Jansen spoke about liability of third party content, the role intermediaries play in monitoring content published online and the challenges they face for not taking down content which is not necessarily illegal, but is offensive to certain parties. Following her presentation were seven highly engaging panels over the duration of the forum.
Topics ranged from ‘Internet Freedom views across the African Continent’ to ‘Women’s rights Online,’ in celebration of International Women’s Day. There were also panels on the ‘Digital Rights and Freedom Bill,’ ‘Internet Surveillance and Government Transparency,’ ‘Internet Freedom as key to Active Citizenship,’ and ‘Data Privacy and Lack of Regulatory Framework.’ The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom was also launched during the two-day event.
The discussions drew participation from both the executive and legislative arms of government, with the Ministry of Communications on the panel discussing ‘Internet Surveillance and Government Transparency,’ and the Ministry of Justice on the panel discussing ‘Data Privacy and Lack of Regulatory Frameworks.’
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was represented by his Special Adviser on Information Communication Technology, Mr. Yakubu Ibrahim at the launch of the ‘African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom.’ The Vice-Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Hon Emeka Ujam, sat on the panel that reviewed the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill and promised to ensure the bill is read twice on the floor of House of Representatives in the year 2016.
In the same vein, his counterpart from the Senate, Senator ‘Jide Omoworare; Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, promised to support the bill to see the light of the day at the Senate. The Office of the National Security Adviser equally made an appearance at the forum.
‘Gbenga Sesan, The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, while speaking on the Internet Surveillance and Government Transparency panel, posited that “It is important to have the conversation on the safeguard of citizens’ right in the online space so that people are not wrongly accused and so that when people who work in the security agencies become ordinary citizens, they will also be protected by the frameworks put in place” Also, the newly appointed Special Assistant to President Buhari on New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi who moderated the final session at the Internet Freedom Forum remarked that “While Internet freedom is the key to active citizenship, active citizenship is also the key to Internet freedom”.
In his closing, Program Manager, ICT Policy at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, ‘Boye Adegoke hinted that the forum will have a broader representation in year 2017, and urged delegates to keep doing the great work in the defense of a free and open Internet.
The event held with support from Google, AccessNow, Facebook, Civicus, Internews, and Alliance for Affordable Internet. Media Partners include TechCabal and Civil Society News.
SMILE Nigeria was present as Broadband Partner.
If you would like more information about this topic or further project description on PIN’s Internet Freedom Advocacy work, please call PIN’s ICT policy office on +234 9 291 63 01 or mail [email protected]